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Artists warned of conmen

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Visual artists should be wary of contracts that they sign so they are not cheated, Voti Thebe, the director of the national art gallery in Bulawayo has said.

Thebe was speaking at a workshop sponsored by Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust to educate artists on intellectual property rights, which was held in Bulawayo on Monday.

“It is very important that artists take stock of contracts they get into, both verbal and written,” he said.

“Artists should where necessary consult a legal expert so that they may not be offered raw deals.

“One time I got into a contract with an international company that wanted me to create a book cover for them.

“I had to consult a lawyer on the legal implications. It is also important to ensure that you know what exactly you are being paid for, including your copyright,” he said.

He bemoaned lack of protection of copyright for artists who are based in communal areas.

“You find that those people create beautiful pieces of traditional artwork such as mats and other weavings, but their works are not protected from being copied by others,” he said.

Artists should also keep records of their works in writing.

“If something is written down, it has a legal bearing. Most artists do not keep records of their works and that makes them prone to being cheated. All art works at the gallery have titles to them. That explains how important it is to record your works,” he said.

Most artists at the workshop that included musicians, writers and poets, complained about being offered raw deals for their works and said it was high time the practice was brought to an end.

Thebe urged visual artists to form a national association so they could speak with a unified voice.

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